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Letters to the editor

Monday, April 30, 2001

An abused child deserves more outrage than a tortured cat

Is our community as willing to respond to abused children as we are to abused animals?

Two recent articles point out that abuse of all forms is indeed prevalent in our community, yet the recent coverage of two local incidents -- one where a cat was shot by a pellet gun ("Cat Peppered with 21 Pellets Undergoes Surgery," April 24) and the other where a child was severely beaten ("Beaten Girl, 3, Remains on Life Support," April 25) -- is perplexing. Perplexing because there are things that just don't add up.

Like why a police officer is quoted as saying "There has to be justice for this cat," yet no one is quoted saying similar things about the 3-year-old child well known to our child welfare system who sustained life-threatening injuries in her own home. Perplexing and disturbing because there were 200 phone calls pledging money and offering to adopt the injured cat, yet there was no groundswell or public outcry for the young girl who was beaten by a caretaker.

It is fitting that these stark contrasts, in both the media coverage and in the public response, occurred during Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to increasing awareness about abuse. In our county, there are over 2,000 children in foster care, which translates to almost 1 in 100 children living in the community.

As an agency responsible for encouraging grass-roots advocacy, the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program depends on the caring community who cannot turn its back on a child in need. We have trained and recruited close to 300 of caring adults since our inception in 1994. Through tremendous outpouring of volunteer and donor support, we have grown to be the largest CASA program in Pennsylvania in just seven years.

There is no shortage of ways to help children and to ensure that they are living in safe homes. As a community, we need to work together and show our collective outrage about all child tragedies, including those that don't make the headlines. Unfortunately, the recent abuse of a child is one of many and all are deserving of our media and personal attention.

MARY JO MEENEN
Executive Director
Allegheny County Court Appointed Special Advocate Program
Downtown


Insult to America

I frequently read the editorial page of the Post-Gazette and rarely has a letter upset me so much as John F. Aber's April 25 diatribe, "Bush's Environmental Decisions Are Fine With Me." I don't claim to be an enthusiastic environmentalist, though I at least try to do my part, but Mr. Aber's offenses transcend the environmentalist cause and insult the very character of the American people.

It would be easy to pick on him for the many holes in his tirade, such as the conspicuous absence of evidence in his argument against conservation or his total ignorance of the very idea he is critiquing, as confirmed by his mistaking of gardening for environmentalism.

Yet these blunders are not as disheartening as his "who cares?" attitude. Through the entirety of his denunciation, his only case against the preservation of the environment is that he "sleep[s] just fine at night" by being unconcerned with the state of the future of the Earth. Well, that sure is swell not to have that weight on your shoulders, but other people like to solve problems rather than ignore them. More distressing still is his assertion that environmentalists, people who are dedicated to a noble cause and willing to work hard towards it, are "out of touch with mainstream America."

I can only hope, for the sake of the country and its well being, that Mr. Aber's image of mainstream America is incorrect; that we are not some lot of apathetic, selfish creatures. Activism, in all forms, gets things done in a democracy. It functions as the loudspeaker for the public voice when the powers that be go deaf to their cries. How else could the citizenry empower themselves for social change? If "mainstream America" is truly as concerned with fixing social problems as Mr. Aber, then it will be a long time before anything gets done around here.

CHRIS WEY
Mt. Lebanon


West enables Arab policies

Regarding the April 23 letter by Samia Blachere ("America Must Press Israel to Comply with U.N. Resolutions"): Ms. Blachere is very intent on having America and Israel comply with peace accords when Palestinians and the Arab nations that surround Israel do not.

When Palestinian sharpshooters target a 10-month baby in the arms of an Israeli mother, when textbooks across the Arab world teach subtraction by positing a group of Jews and asking a student to calculate the number standing after so many are killed, when every honest Arab leader in search of peace has been slain or cowed into submission, it is the height of callousness to pretend that there is a moral equivalence between the two sides.

The truth is that because so many Western nations sat by while Israel has been so tormented, the seeds for a new world war are being planted. Instead of encouraging an enlightened forward-looking leadership in the Arab world, we in the West have taken the path of least resistance, allowing a corrupt leadership rife with arrogance to flourish.

Wake up, America, before it is too late.

IAN HEISS
Squirrel Hill


Greene County's gain

I heard on the news that former Allegheny County chief prosecutor Chris Conrad is going to take employment with the Greene County district attorney's office ("Conrad Gets DA Post," April 21). I wish him well in his new position as a part-time assistant district attorney.

Allegheny County lost the best prosecutor of homicide cases the DA's office ever had. His record speaks for itself. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. would have been wise to retain Mr. Conrad. Now, high-profile cases have been lost. These are the cases that require the experience of a top-notch prosecutor like Mr. Conrad. Allegheny County's loss is Greene County's gain.

HENRY WATSON
Carrick


Editor's note: The writer is a retired homicide detective.


A real reform

Although campaign finance reform ranks below my worries about the price of tea in China and the growing size of Sen. John McCain's ego, I do have a reform idea. Instead of putting an X in the box on our federal 1040 tax form to go to the presidential campaign, I think the X should earmark the money for the upgrading of voting equipment nationwide. The campaign pot of gold can be put aside for a few years. They have many other ways of getting money, legally.

GEORGE BISKUP
Irwin


The horrors of WWI were felt as severely by Ottoman Muslims as by Armenians

It was with great disappointment that I read the April 11 Midweek Perspectives column by Post-Gazette Senior Editor Clarke Thomas, "Crimes So Immense." This commentary is neither accurate nor objective. It lacks the even-handedness that the events of 1915 deserve and, I believe does a disservice to your readers.

Throughout this commentary, American allegations are treated as fact, while Turkish views are painted as boldfaced denial. In fact, the horrors of World War I were felt at least as severely by Ottoman Muslims as by Armenians. As the Russian Army invaded the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Armenians living within the empire revolted with the aim of establishing an Armenian state. During the struggle that ensued, fighting, famine and epidemic took a heavy toll on both sides. Numerous primary and secondary sources show that Muslims were also the victims of this chaotic period.

Capt. Emory Niles and Arthur Sutherland, sent by the Armenian government to investigate events in eastern Anatolia, reported that "the only quarters left at all intact in the cities of Bitlis and Van are the Armenian quarters . . . while the Musulman quarters were completely destroyed." Professor Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville has concluded that perhaps 2.5 million Ottoman Muslim civilians perished during this period.

Mr. Thomas quotes a passage attributed to Hitler in August 1939, in which Hitler suggests that Germany can get away with the annihilation of the "Polish-speaking race" because "[a]fter all, who remembers today the extermination of the Armenians?" Though repeated many times, this sentence about Armenians is complete fiction. This was proved in a 1985 research paper by Heath Lowry, who is now the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University.

Mr. Thomas' commentary states that Turkey was not punished for the alleged massacre of Armenians because of geopolitical considerations. In fact, the British government held 140 Ottoman officials on Malta following World War I while they endeavored to compile a case against them for ordering and organizing the so-called Armenian massacres. Though they had full access to Ottoman archives, the British released them almost three years later for lack of evidence.

Mr. Thomas also attacks Turkey for opposing efforts by foreign governments to classify the events of 1915 as "genocide." The international Armenian lobby has resorted to a political campaign to force the recognition of this so-called "genocide."

But it is historians and the facts of these tragic events that must determine the truth, not the force of political contributions and influence. It is my hope, and my conviction, that the truth of the events of 1915 cannot and should not be bought or legislated.

Finally, Mr. Thomas asserts that "repression [of Armenians] still goes on in Turkey." This is simply untrue. Today, a prosperous Armenian community continues to exist in Turkey, enjoying the same rights and opportunities as every other Turkish citizen.

The tragic events of 1915 had many victims, but no villain. While Turkey is condemned for denying Armenian deaths, Armenians deny the deaths of Muslims. I agree with Mr. Thomas that the truth of these events must be accepted, but this must be the whole truth, not fractured history and baseless allegations. I look forward to an objective and evenhanded report on the events of 1915.

NACI SARIBAS
Minister Counselor
Deputy Chief of Mission
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
Washington, D.C.


Editor's note: The quote from Hitler about Armenians appeared in the 1942 book "What About Germany?" by Louis P. Lochner, who was an Associated Press correspondent in Germany.




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